Blue Monday

Blue Monday, the third Monday of each January, is coined as the ‘most depressing day of the year’, however it is completely made up!  We’re a few weeks into the new year now – the festive season is over, New Year’s Resolutions are starting to fall through, paychecks from December are stretching thin, and the days are still short, cold and dark – so its not unusual to feel like everything is a little bit to much… 

We caught up with Harlequins Foundation employees to ask how they deal with their winter blues:

“I go walking with my dog.”

Spending time with your pet if you have one can do wonders for your mental health, especially when it involves exercise like walking your dog. Exercise releases endorphins and boosts serotonin production – and hanging out with a pet is a fantastic way of seeking companionship in a time of social distancing and lockdowns.

“I try not to make any New Year’s Resolutions that I know I won’t keep. Winter is hard enough without guilt-tripping myself.”

Part of what gets people down in January is making a New Year’s Resolution and failing to achieve it immediately. It’s no use setting unrealistic goals for yourself, and bad for your mental health too. It’s perfectly valid to avoid making resolutions in the first place – but if you do, you should consider giving yourself a realistic goal with achievable milestones along the way.

“When things are getting on top of me, I like to step away and have a bath. I know it sounds stupid, but setting aside that time for myself to just relax away from my screens can make such a difference to my day.”

It’s not stupid at all – the little things really do make a difference. You should be sure to make time just for yourself, even if it’s just for 30 minutes to take a bath. As well as soothing your muscles, a warm bath can help balance your serotonin levels and boost your mood.

“Making sure I treat my body right is important! I cook healthy meals and go for jogs whenever I can.”

Our mental health is intrinsically tied to our physical health. Without a proper diet or exercise we can be left with low concentration, low moods and low energy. It’s tempting to reach for junk food in times of mental stress, but the payoff is short-lived and could leave you feeling worse off in the long run.

“I have this sunlight lamp that helps with my Seasonal Affective Disorder.”

There’s some good science for this one – the lack of sunlight that comes with the winter months knocks our circadian rhythms off-balance, and our quality of sleep is closely tied in to our mental health. Enough exposure to a sun lamp can reset your circadian rhythm as well as positively impact your melatonin production.

“I message my friends and check in on them. If I’m feeling down they might be too. Plus it’s always nice to chat.”

An astonishing 82% of men say they are more likely to open up about their mental health over a drink with friends and family. Check out this powerful video by Brewdog for their campaign #SADAF and make sure you give the people in your life plenty of space and opportunity to start the all-important conversation around their mental health.

For many people, January spells low moods, low motivation and far too low temperatures, and it can all take its toll. The truth of the matter is, there’s no scientific evidence that Blue Monday is any more depressing than any other day – you could have a bad day, or you could also have a perfectly good one – but it can still be a challenging time of year for our mental health. Be gentle with yourself and the people around you, and remember that someone you know is struggling with their mental health right now.

Please check out the work we do to support mental health by clicking here.

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